More to the Bruce Peninsula than national parks

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My granddaughter, the irrepressible and delightful Asia at her favourite place, the lookout over Georgian Bay from the Niagara Escarpment cliffs, just a short walk from “the family farm” in Hope Ness on the Bruce Trail.

I happened to be in Wiarton twice the day before the start of the Canada Day long holiday weekend, on my trip to and from Owen Sound to run a bunch of errands. Both times the northbound traffic was as heavy as I’ve ever seen it, in 37 years of living on the Bruce Peninsula. Continue reading

A sacred place

This year’s recent Sources of Knowledge (SOK) forum based in Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula about an hour north of Hope Ness focussed on First Nation history in this area.

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Hope Bay, looking out to Georgian Bay, from the top of the Niagara Escarpment

I regret having missed it; otherwise, I would have been aware of the special presentation virtually right around the corner from me on the other side of Hope Bay at the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Community Centre at Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker).

I’m kicking myself: it may have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear much more about the significant archeological work done at Nochemowening. Known in recent years as Hunter’s Point, Nochemowening, is an area of land below the Niagara Escarpment on this side of Hope Bay. It is part of Hope Ness. Continue reading

A “storm warning” moment

It’s March in Ontario after all, so anything can happen; and it will.

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It’s not over yet, Mr. Massey Too

The forecast today for the Bruce Peninsula area calls for freezing rain, ice pellets, snow and north-east winds for the next couple of days. Environment Canada’s weather forecasting service has issued a “winter storm warning” for the area. School buses are cancelled all over the Bluewater School Board area that includes all of Grey and Bruce counties. I understand from the news it’s the same story all over southern Ontario.

And here I am at the end of long and vulnerable phone and electrical lines, down Cathedral Drive and through the forest along an unopened road allowance. I’d say the prospect of fallen lines and a power outage is more than likely, for me here, and possibly lots of other people on the peninsula. We’ll see. But our local “hydro” crews always do all they can to help us get back on line. Continue reading

Saugeen Ojibway Nation land-claim lawsuit at a crucial phase

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In recent years the Bruce Peninsula National Park has become an important international tourist destination, with much of the attention focused on the Grotto, above.

(This update corrects an error in the naming of the two First Nations that comprise the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. It also adds some additional information regarding the status of the case.)

The original version of this blog-post was published in Finding Hope Ness on December 19, 2015. The title then was, Saugeen Ojibway land claim lawsuit may soon be settled, one way or another. At the time there were reasons to think 2018 could be the crucial year for reaching a resolution of the now-almost 25-year-long court action.

But 2018 has come and gone, with no indication to the general public that a negotiated settlement is in the works.

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) took the unusual step in 1994 of filing a lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to settle long-standing land claims, after years of frustrating talks with government officials. Continue reading

An Aboriginal fisherman leaves food for thought

A few weeks ago a well-used pick-up truck pulled into our driveway on the Bruce Peninsula. A man who looked like he might be in his mid-30s got out and said he and his fisherman partner had some freshly caught Georgian Bay fish for sale and did I want some.

They were from nearby Cape Croker, home of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, and they were doing what people from there have been doing for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, trading and bartering the fish they catch, in this case nowadays, for cash. That traditional and vital use of the fishery around what  used to be called the Saugeen Peninsula, for food and trade, was recognized and re-affirmed by an Ontario court decision in 1993, that ruled First Nation people in this area were entitled to “priority” use of the fishery in local waters.

At the time most large-scale commercial fishers in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay waters in this area were non-Aboriginal. That court decision began a process of change, leading to the predominantly First Nation fishery that exists today. But the initial reaction of many people in the local non-Aboriginal community was angry and confrontational.

For a while downtown Owen Sound was not a friendly or even safe place for First Nation people to be. One night two young men from Cape Croker were attacked with knives by a group of thugs and badly injured. Continue reading

Boys, I Tell You Something

There’s a big, multi-level parking garage there now, but many years ago a group of idealistic young men spent many evenings one summer sitting around a table at an outdoor café in Toronto’s old village district north of Gerrard Street, between Bay and University. We solved the problems of the world every night that summer, and in the process befriended another regular, a mysterious, older man-of-the-world.  Continue reading